Acts 13:1-29 (NLT)
Now don’t get me wrong, I love the Old Testament. But sometimes I get to the point where I have had enough of the prophets! So at a break in the book of Ezekiel (we have finished the chapters on the judgment of Israel), we will return to the book of Acts. Wonderful New Testament stories! Thrilling accounts of God at work in miraculous ways as the good news of Jesus Christ spreads beyond the Holy Land!
The Book of Acts can be divided into four principal parts with Acts 1:8 serving as a key text:
“And you shall receive power from on high when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria even to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The four main divisions are:
- Part 1 — The Church in Jerusalem
- Part 2 — The Church in Judea and Samaria
- Part 3 — The Church in Gentile Territories
- Part 4 — Paul’s Trials and Voyage to Rome
We will be DWELLING in the Word in the first portion of Part 3 and watching Paul and his associates bring the Gospel to Galatia.
Barnabas and Saul Are Commissioned
In Acts 12:25, we learned that Barnabas, Saul, and John Mark were all at the church in Antioch, having returned from delivering a gift of support to the church in Jerusalem “(Acts 11:27-30). Saul and Barnabas were among the teachers and prophets there.
1 Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas),
Quick, which Herod is this? The one who ordered the killing of John the Baptist. The one who mocked Jesus just before His crucifixion.
and Saul. 2 One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.”
You can’t really say “yes” to God’s call on your life until you can say “no” to things that will keep you from that call.
Ephesians 2:10 (Contemporary EV)
God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live. That’s why he sent Christ to make us what we are.
3 So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.
Paul’s First Missionary Journey
4 So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus.
Barbabas grew up on the island of Cyprus; as long as he is traveling, he might as well drop in on the folks!
5 There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant.
This is the same Mark who will later write the Gospel of Mark.
6 Afterward they traveled from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus.
This city was known for its immorality: “Paphos was infamous for its worship of Venus, the goddess of [sexual] love” (Barclay). We will see in Paphos a familiar combination: Immorality connected with spiritual darkness.
7 He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Barnabas and Saul said. He was trying to keep the governor from believing.
9 Saul, also known as Paul,
Saul’s father was a Roman citizen, and Saul received a quality Greek education. So in Jewish circles he was Saul, and with others, he was Paul. It is not unlikely that he went by both names all his life, depending on which group of people he was with.
was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye. 10 Then he said, “You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? 11 Watch now, for the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time.” Instantly mist and darkness came over the man’s eyes, and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him.
Surely Paul must be thinking of his own days of darkness, and hoping that Elymas would also find the light of God.
12 When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.
Paul Preaches in Antioch of Pisidia
13 Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga.
They leave the island of Cyprus and arrive at the mainland, what is now Turkey.
There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. 14 But Paul and Barnabas traveled inland to Antioch of Pisidia.
The fact that John Mark abandoned them here will cause friction between Paul and Barnabas later.
On the Sabbath they went to the synagogue for the services. 15 After the usual readings from the books of Moses and the prophets, those in charge of the service sent them this message: “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, come and give it.”
A synagogue service generally went like this: Opening prayers were offered, then there was a reading from the Law (the first five books of the Old Testament). Then, a reading from the Prophets. Then, if there was an educated person present, he was invited to speak on subjects related to the readings.
16 So Paul stood, lifted his hand to quiet them, and started speaking. “Men of Israel,” he said, “and you God-fearing Gentiles, listen to me.
Paul gives a brief overview of Jewish history which shows that God has a plan for Israel.
17 “The God of this nation of Israel chose our ancestors and made them multiply and grow strong during their stay in Egypt. Then with a powerful arm he led them out of their slavery. 18 He put up with them through forty years of wandering in the wilderness. 19 Then he destroyed seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to Israel as an inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years.
“After that, God gave them judges to rule until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people begged for a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, who reigned for forty years. 22 But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’
23 “And it is one of King David’s descendants, Jesus, who is God’s promised Savior of Israel! 24 Before he came, John the Baptist preached that all the people of Israel needed to repent of their sins and turn to God and be baptized. 25 As John was finishing his ministry he asked, ‘Do you think I am the Messiah? No, I am not! But he is coming soon—and I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the sandals on his feet.’
Paul goes on to say that some Israelites accepted Christ, but many did not.
26 “Brothers—you sons of Abraham, and also you God-fearing Gentiles—this message of salvation has been sent to us! 27 The people in Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize Jesus as the one the prophets had spoken about. Instead, they condemned him, and in doing this they fulfilled the prophets’ words that are read every Sabbath. 28 They found no legal reason to execute him, but they asked Pilate to have him killed anyway.
29 “When they had done all that the prophecies said about him, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb.
One of my favorite missionary hymns! I love the words “story,” “light,” and “kingdom”! HERE is “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nation,” sung by the Melody Four Quartet (memories of my childhood and Christian radio!).
The Melody Four Quartet used an eclectic mix of influences in their tightly-woven harmonies to create an elegant sound consisting of less showmanship than many of the flashy quartets of the 1950s. Each member — Glenn Jorian, Clair Hess, Ray Felten and Bill Pearce — was an incredible singer apart from the group, and together they created a unique sound that was as sophisticated as it was musically solid.
The group got its start when WMBI was looking for a standby quartet, in case they needed to fill airtime. Clair and Glenn were part of that standby quartet with two other gentlemen. One day their first on-air opportunity came, and 10 seconds before they went live the producer asked, “Does this quartet have a name?” With the clock ticking, someone called out, “We are calling them Melody Four!” That day a quartet was born. And these same four singers stayed together for 52 years of performances and recordings.
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